Lausanne, Switzerland: The International Hockey Federation (FIH) celebrates its Centenary on 7 January 2024. While historical references suggest that hockey has been around for thousands of years, with mentions made in Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt and ancient Greece, it wasn’t until 1876 that formal rules were drawn up and 1924 that the sport was formalised with the formation of the Fédération Internationale de Hockey sur Gazon on 7 January of that year, in Paris, France.
That’s when Frenchman Paul Léautey formed the organisation with initial members from Austria, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Hungary, Spain and Switzerland.
By that stage men’s hockey had already featured in two editions of the Olympic Games – in 1908 and 1920. But, spurred on by its omission from the 1924 Games in Paris, Léautey decided it was imperative that an international governing body be formed. That was the start of the hundred-year journey which has taken hockey to where it is today.
Back in the 1920s, the women’s game was also growing in popularity and in 1927, the International Federation of Women's Hockey Associations (IFWHA) was created. It wasn’t until both the men’s and women’s governing bodies had celebrated their golden jubilees that the two organisations came together to form the current FIH in 1982.
Other major milestones along the way have included the first Men’s Hockey World Cup in 1971 in Spain, where Pakistan were crowned champions, the first Women’s Hockey World Cup in 1974 in France where the Netherlands won the title, and the introduction of women’s hockey to the Olympic programme in 1980, where Zimbabwe claimed the gold medal.
1976 proved a pivotal year in the development of the game as artificial turf was introduced at the hockey tournament of the Montreal Olympic Games and has replaced natural grass in most elite hockey events ever since.
The first Indoor World Cup took place in 2003 in Leipzig, Germany and 11 years later, the new, thrilling format of Hockey5s was added to the programme at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games in China.
2019 brought with it another exciting addition to the hockey calendar with the introduction of the FIH Hockey Pro League pitting the best of the best men’s and women’s teams against each other in mini-tournaments across the world.
As the game continues to evolve and grow, 2024 will bring with it the introduction of another global event – the Hockey 5s World Cup – in Muscat, Oman from 24-31 January.
Through it all FIH has stood firm in its clearly stated mission: to promote and develop hockey at all levels throughout the world without any form of discrimination, to govern and regulate the sport at international level, and to protect the independence and autonomy of the FIH and its Members and Continental Federations to govern and regulate the sport.
The federation is also committed to controlling the organisation and scheduling competitions in accordance with the best long-term interests and priorities of the sport as a whole and to preserve the integrity of the sport, by adopting rules implementing the World Anti-Doping Code and other appropriate codes of conduct and ensuring that such rules and codes are enforced at all Hockey events sanctioned by the FIH.
In playing this vital role, the FIH continues to grow – from those original seven members in 1924 to 50 by 1964, 71 by 1974 and today consisting of five continental associations and 140 member nations.
Hockey has been played at 24 editions of the Olympic Games so far while 15 editions of both the men’s and women’s Hockey World Cup have taken place.
With new tournaments, fresh formats of the game, numerous other innovations and constant evolution, there are sure to be plenty more enthralling minutes of action to come in the next century.
Speaking on the occasion of the FIH’s 100th anniversary, President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach said: “On this milestone anniversary, you can look back with so much pride on 100 years of great progress. Starting with only seven member associations, FIH has not stopped growing ever since. Today, your 140 national associations underline in an impressive way that hockey has grown to a truly global sport with worldwide appeal.
The strong standing of hockey in Olympic sport today is thanks to all of you. Today, FIH and the IOC enjoy a strong partnership.
I would like to thank all of you at FIH for the important work you are doing day-in and day-out to support your athletes and to promote the role of sport. Building on a century of progress, you have every reason to look to the future with great confidence. As you look to this bright future, let me reiterate that FIH, under the great leadership of my friend Tayyab Ikram, can always count on the IOC as a partner by your side to promote our shared Olympic values of peace and solidarity.”
To watch the full message from the IOC President, please click here.
FIH President Tayyab Ikram added: “Today, we stand on the cusp of history, marking 100 years of dedication, passion, and growth in the world of hockey. This is not just a celebration; it is a commemoration of a century of resilience, progress, and the unyielding spirit of the hockey community.
We pay tribute to our athletes, visionary leaders, dedicated volunteers, valued partners, and to all those who have been part of this incredible journey.
Our journey, from seven member associations to a sport played in 140 countries, is a testament to the enduring power of hockey. It has been more than just a game; it has been a force for unity, resilience, and positive change marking a century of sporting excellence.
I must express my appreciation and admiration for our heroes, our athletes of all times. They have shown great resilience and adaptability by adjusting to changing conditions, environments, equipment, rules, and officiating principles. Their unlimited capacity to perform have elevated the game to higher levels and they serve as role models for all of us.
National Associations and Continental Federations have played a very important role, navigating regional challenges, making hockey a success story in diverse corners of the world. The remarkable success of FIH is primarily attributed to the outstanding efforts of National Associations. In our shared journey, as these Associations flourished and strengthened, so did the FIH.”
To watch the full message from the FIH President, please click here.
A number of activities will be planned throughout the year to celebrate the FIH Centenary, that will culminate at the FIH Congress taking place in Oman in November 2024.